Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (Punjabi: نصرت فتح علی خان (Shahmukhī)) (October 13, 1948 – August 16, 1997), a world-renowned Pakistani musician, was primarily a singer of Qawwali, the devotional music of the Sufis (a mystical tradition within Islam). Considered one of the greatest singers ever recorded, he possessed a six-octave vocal range and could perform at a high level of intensity for several hours. Extending the 600-year old Qawwali tradition of his family, Khan is widely credited with introducing Sufi music to international audiences. He was popularly known as "Shahenshah-e-Qawwali", meaning "The King of Kings of Qawwali".
Born in Faisalabad, Pakistan, Khan had his first public performance at age of 16, at his father's chelum. He officially became the head of the family qawwali party in 1971, and was signed by Oriental Star Agencies (OSA), Birmingham, U.K., in the early 1980s. In subsequent years, Khan released movie scores and albums for various labels in Pakistan, Europe, Japan and the U.S. He engaged in collaborations and experiments with Western artists, becoming a well-known world music artist in the process. He toured extensively, performing in over 40 countries.
Awards and titles
Khanis widely considered to be the most important qawwal in history. In 1987, Khan received the President of Pakistan’s Award for Pride of Performance for his contribution to Pakistani music. In 1995 he received the UNESCO Music Prize. In 1996 he was awarded Grand Prix des Amériques at Montreal World Film Festival for exceptional contribution to the art of cinema. In 2005, Khan was awarded the "Legends" award at the UK Asian Music Awards. Time magazine's issue of November 6, 2006, "60 Years of Asian Heroes", lists him as one of the top 12 artists and thinkers in the last 60 years. He also appeared on NPR's 50 Great Voices list in 2010. In August 2010 he was included in CNN's list of the twenty most iconic musicians from the past fifty years.
Many honorary titles were bestowed upon Khan during his 25-year music career. He was given the title of Ustad after performing classical music at a function in Lahore on his father's death anniversary.
Khan was taken ill with kidney and liver failure on August 11, 1997 in London, England, while on the way to Los Angeles in order to receive a kidney transplant. He died of a sudden cardiac arrestat Cromwell Hospital, London, on Saturday, August 16, 1997, aged 48. His body was returned to Faisalabad, Pakistan, and his funeral was attended by the public.